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Cost-Effective Brand Building for SMEs
What We Can Learn from Apple
Did you know that the world's most valuable brand is worth a whopping $185 billion? Yes, according to Business Insider, Apple qualified as the most valuable brand for 2013. This was despite falling stock prices and the heavily discussed uncertaintly over Tim Cook's ability to step into the shoes of Steve Jobs. A brand is more than just the logo of a company. It's what people feel about the company.
Lasting Does Not Mean Expensive
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) rarely have the luxury of investing millions in brand imaging. And giant players creating lasting impressions like the “red of Coca Cola” and the “blue of Pepsi”. This makes the impending task over-whelming. Irrespective of the size of a businesses’ customer base, meaningful brand imaging exercises can have an effective and immediate effect, according to an article in Inspired Thinking. Focus on starting small, and growing. The trick here is – being lasting, not being expensive.
There is a reversal in the relationship between brands and customers. People are far more vocal today and expect to be asked for their inputs. According to a survey mentioned by Hubert Grealish, around 55% of people expressed their desire to have ongoing conversations with brands. Social media is a highly cost effective way to achieve this. Set up a Facebook Page for your company and a profile on Twitter. Upload interesting content, rather than promotional updates. Invite people to offer their suggestions on your product or service.
Use Email Marketing
According to an article by social media and content strategist Jay Baer, the spend by those who buy products from email offers is 138% higher than those who do not receive emailers from companies. Thus, email marketing is a powerful vehicle, not only to gain brand recognition, but also to make sales. This cost-effective method has a wide reach and is highly measurable.
Building a Customer Base
SMEs need to focus on quality sales. Unlike big brands, every sale counts to spread the word and add credibility. A stepping stone for high sales figures is a broad customer base. Likewise, branding efforts must be directed focusing on customers. Small initiatives like – awarding loyalty points for regular customers, responding to feedback, and customer support can help gain a positive publicity. It also helps build an intrinsic cliental.
According to an article on Tech Cocktail, 46% of web users watch brand-related videos every week. Even simple videos, hosted on YouTube, can significantly enhance the brand visibility of an SME.
Brand Oriented Stationary
Begin brand development with the company stationary. This includes letter heads, calling or business cards, pens, envelopes and websites. Amongst the common branding mistakes of SMEs, one is to constantly change stationary, thereby curbing the growth of brand value. Also, make it a point to standardize the imaging strategy in all mediums used. For instance, the business card should be a handle of the website; complimentary yet supplementary. Brand-focused stationary also adds an aura of professionalism and is a symbol of business etiquette.
Internal Branding Initiatives
Customers and prospective clients get all the focus during a branding exercise. It is equally important to ensure that the employees and the management are an inherent part of the brand. This can be achieved through internal branding exercises. In-house presentations and communication should represent the brand. Quality checks and ethical practices must also be followed to develop employee quality and loyalty. So, do not compromise on internal branding.
Unique Business Compliments
There is an unsaid rule in the business world about complimentary gifts during the holiday season. Many businesses send gift boxes, pens, show pieces. With the several gifts piling-up, rarely do we associate the gift with the company. It is a good idea to send custom favors like personalized chocolate coins, with the logo and name to create a good brand image. Ideas like this will not eat into your budget.
Strategies Advertisements and Use of Media
Choose a platform that best promotes your product and brand, within your budget. For instance, conventional advertising like television, radio and print can be expensive. Make use of social media and internet marketing. You can also make use of online press release and public relations activities. Encouraging customers to write reviews on platforms like Facebook and Twitter can help create unpaid brand ambassadors.